When reenacting or acting as a historical interpreter, its good to have a few historical dates and stories to share. This series will publish a few.
August 31, 1786 – SHAY’S REBELLION: Enraged by high debts and Massachusetts increased efforts to collect taxes, Captain Daniel Shay (Continental Army) led an armed mob to disrupt the proceedings of the Northampton County Court, occupy the courthouse and preventing the courts from passing judgement against debtors. This mob then marched on the federal armory at Springfield in an attempt to seize its weaponry and overthrow the government. When federal troops were sent to quell this rebellion and restore the courts, Shay and many of his men fled to the independent nation of Vermont.
Armed bands forced the closing of several courts to prevent execution of foreclosures and debt processes. In September 1786 Daniel Shays and other local leaders led several hundred men in forcing the Supreme Court in Springfield to adjourn. Shays led a force of about 1,200 men in an attack (January 1787) on the federal arsenal at Springfield, which was repulsed. Pursued by the militia, on February 4 he was decisively defeated at Petersham and fled to Vermont. As a result of the rebellion, the Massachusetts legislature enacted laws easing the economic condition of debtors. Though small in scale and easily repressed, Shays’s action became, for some, a persuasive argument for a stronger and conservative national government, thereby contributing to the movement for the Constitutional Convention.
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